Published: 8th May 2021.
CaravanID is a community led initiative. We were established in 2020 in direct response to the concerns of caravan, motorhome and campervan owners, dismayed at the increase of van thefts and the apparent lack of action to address the situation.
Our founders are professional auditors and consultants with many years of experience, assessing, implementing and managing business and information security strategies. Applying this experience to the issue at hand, they identified fundamental weaknesses in caravan and motorhome security and set about providing a solution. That solution is CaravanID.
Despite being high value items, caravans in particular are not afforded the same protection from mandatory registration. as motor vehicles. The only visible identification on a caravan is the registration plate on the rear. however, that number relates to the towing vehicle not the caravan itself and is frequently changed. Remove the number plate and the van is essentially indistinguishable from other vans on the road.
Motorhomes & Campers
Being motor vehicles, motorhomes and campers are fortunately assigned their own registration numbers by the Driver & Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) that can easily be checked. Unlike caravans, these should not be altered or changed but are still simple for a thief to remove or swap. Most routine police checks are of the displayed registration number not the van itself.
As we have explained above, caravans, motorhomes and campers all rely on a removable number plate for identification. Indeed this is what the police will routinely check but it will rarely identify a stolen van.
Fortunately, all vans have a unique VIN or Chassis number that’s not so easily obscured, but unfortunately, it’s not all that visible. To check a VIN or chassis number the police will need to stop and examine the van, not something they would typically do without good reason. With 555,000 vans on the road, they’re certainly not going to stop and check every similar van they see on the off chance they find yours!
Even if the police do access your VIN, checking it can be problematic. DVLA will provide them with details for motorhomes and campers but they don’t keep records for caravans. Members of the public cannot check any of them!
In A Nutshell
Checking the displayed number plate is totally unreliable and in the case of caravans, it does not even relate to the van. The more reliable VIN or Chassis number is impossible to see on a mobile vehicle or from a distance and is unlikely to be checked. The vans themselves are all very similar in appearance, even to those of us in the know. Is it really any wonder that so few stolen vans are recovered?
Making A Difference
Based on 2019 official figures there are 140,000 police officers in the UK. About 3% (4200) are assigned to dedicated road policing duties. These are split into four working shifts, so there are an estimated 1050 on duty at any time (less absence, annual leave, court or escort duties etc).
In the same period the NCC estimated there were 555,000 touring caravans and 225,000 motorhomes in use in the UK, making a combined total of 780,000. If just one in four of us were out and about, that would be 195,000, or 185 of us to every one traffic officer. Whether a member or not, CID aims to encourage a real community spirit among all caravan and motorhome owners by enabling anyone with a connected smartphone or tablet to identify and check a suspicious van, quickly and for free.
Obviously, the more people participating, the more effective the initiative.
Whilst our founders have a professional track record in security, there are almost a million experienced caravan and motorhome enthusiasts out there that must be listened to. In addition to their combined wisdom, they are the eyes and ears of the community and best placed to decide what we do and how we do it.